Anatomic risk factors for sinus disease: fact or fiction?

Am J Rhinol. 2005 Jul-Aug;19(4):334-9.


Background: Sinonasal anatomic variants have been postulated as a risk factor for sinus disease. Therefore, a study was conducted to examine the correlation of sinus disease to septal deviation, concha bullosa, and infraorbital ethmoid cells.

Methods: Two hundred fifty consecutive sinus and orbital computed tomography scans were examined at the University of Virginia over a 2-year period. Coronal, sagittal, and axial views were examined for the presence and size of concha bullosa and infraorbital ethmoid cells. Septal deviations were measured by examining the width of the nasal cavity at the level of the maxillary sinus ostium. The severity of mucosal thickening in the maxillary, ethmoid, and frontal sinuses was recorded. The correlation between mucosal disease of the sinuses to the anatomic variants was then compared.

Results: Computed tomography images were reviewed in 250 consecutive studies (500 sides). Of the 500 sides, 67.2% of sides had some level of mucosal thickening. Concha bullosa and infraorbital ethmoid cells were both present in 27% of the sides. Concha bullosa was associated with maxillary sinus disease (p < 0.01). Infraorbital ethmoid cells were associated with both ethmoid (p < 0.05) and maxillary (p < 0.01) mucosal disease. Frontal sinus disease had no significant correlation with these anatomic variants (p > 0.05). For sinuses with infraorbital ethmoid cells or concha bullosa, there were a higher number of diseased sinuses with larger anatomic variants (p < 0.01). Narrow nasal cavities were associated with maxillary sinus disease (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Septal deviations, concha bullosa, and infraorbital ethmoid cells, which contribute to the narrowing of the osteomeatal complex, are associated with mucosal disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethmoid Sinus / cytology
  • Ethmoid Sinus / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Nasal Septum / abnormalities*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / etiology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed